Study Guide

Ready Player One Dissatisfaction

By Ernest Cline


Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

Normally the newsfeeds didn't interrupt everyone's interactive sitcoms and soap operas unless something really major happened. (0.3)

Everyone's looking for a way to escape, and most people are using some form of media to do it, even if it isn't the OASIS. Wait a second… that sounds eerily familiar.

Chapter 1
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

Growing up as a human being on the planet Earth in the twenty-first century was a real kick in the teeth. Existentially speaking. (1.16)

Wade goes on a diatribe early on about how terrible the Earth is. We can sum it for you with these five words: life stinks, then you die. With that kind of attitude, no wonder he's so eager to wash his hands of the place and fly off into space.

Things used to be awesome, but now they're kinda terrifying. (1.19)

We wonder when this awesome "used to be" actually was. In the '80s, amidst the Cold War, the discovery of AIDS in the U.S., and the murder of John Lennon? Just because there was a lot of incredible pop culture doesn't mean the world was a better place. The grass is always greener in the past. But let's not forget the fashion disasters that plagued the '80s, too.

The real world sucked. (1.35)

This is Wade's opinion. If there is anything worthwhile about the real world that he's so dissatisfied with, he doesn't share it with us. But come on, there must be something redeemable.

Chapter 2
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

The real public school system, the one run by the government, had been an underfunded, overcrowded train wreck for decades. (2.23)

We're not sure if all the good teachers just moved over to the OASIS and let the public school system continue to decay, or if a few stayed behind to try and fight the noble fight for education. Either way, we're starting to realize that Wade's beefs with the real world sound a lot like some of the political discourse we're hearing today.

Chapter 4
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

Even the fast-food joints in my neighborhood had a two-year waiting list for job applicants. (4.28)

You know things are bad when people are on a waiting list to get a job at Burger King. Which came first? This bad economy or the general population's apathy toward life?

Chapter 9
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

"The reason so many people are starving is because we've wrecked the planet. The Earth is dying, you know? It's time to leave." (9.136)

Here's another eerily familiar complaint. Looks like in Ready Player One's version of reality, climate change is here to stay. Wade's solution to the world's problems: give up and fly away. Is he sane to escape and try to start a new life, or just really selfish?

Chapter 10
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

If and when I finally escaped from the stacks, I'd never look back. And I definitely wouldn't create a detailed simulation of the place. (10.24)

It's hard for Wade to see why anyone would re-create their childhood home in the OASIS because his own childhood was so terrible. Seeing these fond recreations makes him think that the world used to be some sort of paradise.

Chapter 16
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

The view was perpetually bleak, and each decaying, overcrowded city we rolled through looked just like the last. (16.23)

This statement shows us that it's not just Wade's hometown of Oklahoma City that's a dump. Every place is experiencing the same crippling problems. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a dystopia.

Chapter 19
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

The hour or so after I woke up was my least favorite part of each day, because I spent it in the real world. (19.35)

Okay, we get it. Wade hates the real world. Maybe if he hung up a poster or something, his spartan apartment wouldn't be such a miserable place. But really: is virtual reality a good way to handle one's dissatisfaction with their lot in life? Sure, he may be wearing a haptic suit, but isn't he still actually sitting in a trailer park?

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